Productivity is an overused word in many circles. Some businesses use it to justify having fewer employee doing more work. Government loves to tout any increase in the overall productivity of the economy. Efficiency experts write books about it and conduct endless seminars.
But, what does productivity mean to someone who is retired or moving in that direction? Aren't retirement and productivity polar opposites, an oxymoron?
No, not at all. Some of the words that are part of the definition of productivity include abundance, fetile, effective, prolific. Aren't those adjectives that help describe a satisfying retirement?
With that clarification, here are a series of things you can do to become more productive from a retirement persepctive. Pick and choose which ones work best for you. Some are polar opposites of each other, but each of us is productive in our ouwn unique way.
1. Delete. Maybe a task or project should simply be eliminated. If it doesn’t need to be done or isn't pleasing to you, get it off your to do list. Too often we get stuck in a rut and repeat an unpleasant task over and over.
2.Daily goals. Without a clear focus, it’s too easy to succumb to distractions. Set targets in advance. Decide what you’ll do and then do it.
3.Worst first. Tackle your most unpleasant task first thing in the morning instead of delaying it until later. It is much too easy to run out of energy, interest, or will power by the end of the day. Sounds like a great idea. Too bad I have real problems implementing this one.
4.Peak times. This may be better for you than #3 just above. If your peak production time is something other than morning, your most difficult or unpleasant task should be done then. Identify when you are firing on all cylinders. Don't waste those moments on secondary stuff.
5.Closed Door Times. Set aside blocks of time for solo work where you must concentrate. That means no interruptions from people, computers, or text messages. Grandkids are exceptions.
6.Mini-milestones. When you begin something identify a target you must reach before you can stop working. For example, when working on a book, you could decide not to get up until you’ve written at least 500 words. Maybe, you want to get all thise new plants in the ground this afternoon. Hit your target no matter what.
7.Timeboxing. Another approach is to give yourself a fixed time period, like 30 minutes, to make a dent in a task. Don’t worry about how far you get, just put in the time.
8.Batching. Especially good for errands, bill paying, or phone calls. Batch similar tasks into one time slot, and complete them in a single session.
9.Early bird. Get up early in the morning, like at 5AM, and go straight to work on your most important task. You can often get more done before 8am than most people do in a day. Another idea I like, but I have no prayer of implementing. Any more, anything before 6:30 seems like the middle of the night.
10. Cut the Cord. Take a laptop, and go to a place where you can work without WiFi access or distractions. A library, park, or your own backyard. Avoid coffee shops. The temptation to talk and check on-line is just too strong.
11.Up-Tempo-it. Deliberately pick up the pace, and try to move a little faster than usual. Speak faster. Walk faster. Type faster. Read faster. For a short period, like 30-45 minutes.
12. 80-20 rule, which states that 80% of the value of a task comes from 20% of the effort. Focus your energy on that critical 20%, and don’t spend much time on the the non-critical 80%.
13.Timer Time. Once you have the information you need to make a decision, start a timer and give yourself just 120 seconds to make the actual decision. Take two minutes to vacillate and second-guess yourself all you want, but come out the other end with a clear choice. Once your decision is made, take some kind of action to set it in motion.
14.Promise. Tell others of your commitments, since they’ll help hold you accountable. This one works. I finished the e-book three days early to avoid public embarrasement!
15.Punctuality. Whatever it takes, show up on time. Arrive early and show respect for others. There is no such thing as being "fasionably late" except in the movies.
16. Fill reading. Use reading to fill in those odd periods like waiting for an appointment, standing in line, or while the coffee is brewing. In the doctor's office you can finish a good chunck of War and Peace.
17.Gold Star. Remember this from pre-school or kindergarten? Give yourself frequent rewards for achievement. See a movie, book a professional massage, or spend a day doing whatever makes you feel refreshed and rewarded. Do not feel any guilt on your Gold Star Day.
18.Continuum. At the end of your workday, identify the first task you’ll work on the next day, and set out the materials in advance. The next day begin working on that task immediately. That may mean you have to clean up your work space abit. That is a good thing.
19.Slice and dice. Break complex projects into smaller, well-defined tasks. Focus on completing just one of those tasks.
20.Randomize. Pick a totally random piece of a larger project, and complete it. Pay one random bill. Make one phone call. Write page 42 of your book.
21. One Month. Identify a new habit you’d like to form, and commit to sticking with it for just 30 days. A temporary commitment is much easier to keep than a permanent one. At the end of that month, your new habit will likely become.....a habit.
22.Intuition. Go with your gut instinct. It’s probably right. Don't always wait for confirmation or validation.
23.Delegate. Convince someone else to do it for you. I saved the best for last
While i preach against simplistic, "top 10" list posts, I believe this one is different. The ideas aren't all common sense. Some of these would be good for me. My thanks to fellow blogger Steve Pavlina for the inspiration for this post from an article of his 4 years ago.
What do you do to make the most of each day? Share a tip or trick with us by leaving a comment. That would be a productive thing to do.
"Building a Satisfying Retirement- How to Make the Most of This New Phase of Your Life" e-book is now available. Send an e-mail with "Free Book" in the subject line to satisfyingretirement for your copy. There is no cost or obligation.